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AI influencers: The social media personalities that don’t exist

Are AI influencers the next big thing or just a high-tech novelty?

Compilation image of AI influencer and TikTok symbol on a phone

Computer-generated Instagram models and TikTok stars are racking up millions of followers in a new craze that baffles even the most experienced social media gurus.

Here’s a run-down on who these AI influencers are, why there is so much hype around them, and what the new trend means for the future of social media.

What is an AI influencer?

AI, or virtual influencers are social media personalities that have been created using artificial intelligence. It allows content creators to stay hidden and anonymous, instead using an AI persona with fake talents, hobbies, and even love lives. The genius part is that these masterminds are financially flourishing from brand collaborations.

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Want your digital influencer to shoot some content in France? A simple photoshop. Surfing in Hawaii? Render out some wave footage. They’re jet-setters without the jet lag.

As far as I see it, AI influencers are the ultimate intersection between influencer culture and disruptive tech. A digital persona, engineered to be both entertaining and interesting, doing all the things human influencers do - including snapping Insta-worthy photos, making TikTok videos to the latest trends, and even advocating for social causes. The only catch is they're as real as the terms and conditions everyone claims to read.

Meet @lilmiquela, The AI Influencer Next Door

Miquela Sousa, better known to her 2.7 million Instagram fans as @lilmiquela was created by tech startup Brud, a CGI content creator who has experience with big brands including, Chanel, Burberry and Samsung.

But here's the kicker, if Miquela promotes a brand or endorses a cause, does it hold the same credibility as a human influencer?

From where I sit, Millennials love to get behind videos and creators, sometimes for the weirdest of reasons. The other day, I saw a TikTok creator post a 30-second food review, but in the middle of the video they cut in a two-minute ad break they had downloaded from the internet. The video had more than 1 million likes because people found it funny. Maybe a digital persona could draw the same volume of attention?

A reality check

As we push the boundaries of technology and social interaction, the need for regulation and ethical considerations escalates. If not managed carefully, AI influencers could become propaganda megaphones or worse.

On a more positive note, they could also mainstream influencer marketing, opening doors for brands that can't afford high-profile human influencers. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that brands in the future could have their own AI digital persona to run and feature in their social media.

AI influencers aren't just a flash in the pan. They're a weird but significant addition to the social media landscape that every business, marketer, and, yes, even real influencers, should pay attention to. As we skate into this new world, we've got to question whether AI influencers are the next big thing or just a high-tech novelty.

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